‘Forward Together’ Bus System Redesign Rolling Out in Portland

Portland is redesigning its bus system to respond to the changing patterns of the post-pandemic world—with twin goals of increasing ridership and improving equity.

2 minute read

August 30, 2023, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Portland Bus Lane

Paul Sableman / Flickr

TriMet launched redesigned bus service in SW Portland on August 27, the first phase of the ongoing “Forward Together” service redesign.

“Forward Together is focused on equity and will make it easier for more people to connect with opportunities throughout the region,” according to an article published by Mass Transit magazine. “It moves some service from areas with low ridership and higher incomes to those where there are more people with lower incomes, who rely on transit to make important daily connections such as getting to work, school, health care and other services.”

“In the first bulk delivery of improvements and adjustments, TriMet is expanding its Frequent Service network and making it easier and more convenient to ride, with buses arriving more often at more times and on more days,” according to the article, which includes a lot more specifics for the plan.

TriMet touted Forward Together as one of its responses to an unprecedented driver shortage—a common issue in transit agencies around the country in the wake of the pandemic. But an article by Jarrett Walker (Walker’s firm consulted on the project with TriMet and is based in Portland) on the Human Transit blog notes that by the time the plan is fully implemented, TriMet will be operating 10 percent more service than in 2019.

According to Walker, the goal of more equitable service was pursued coequal with increased ridership. “The plan includes a major expansion of the Frequent Network in high demand areas, and new local routes in underserved suburban areas with large low-income populations,” according to Walker. “Where TriMet was running services that are justified neither by ridership nor by equity, the plan reduces or even eliminates those services.”

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